What is Hip Dislocation?

A hip dislocation occurs when the ball-shaped head of the thigh bone moves out of its socket in the pelvis. It’s a serious medical injury that requires immediate treatment.

Motor vehicle collisions are common causes of hip dislocation. This injury can also happen during athletic events.

Types of Hip Dislocation

When one suffers from a hip dislocation, the femoral head is either pushed out of the socket in a backward or forward direction.

Posterior Dislocation
This is the most common type of hip dislocation, accounting for about 90% of the cases. In this type of hip dislocation, the femoral head is pushed out of the socket in a backward direction.

Anterior Dislocation
Anterior dislocation occurs when the femoral head is pushed out of the socket in a forward direction. This results in the hip being bent slightly, with the leg rotating out and away from the body’s midline.

Symptoms of Hip Dislocation

Severe pain is the most common complaint of those with dislocated hip. This is usually accompanied by difficulty in moving the leg. In some cases, there can be a loss of feeling in the feet or ankle area. This symptom usually signifies nerve damage.

Diagnosing Hip Dislocation

Most cases of hip dislocation can be easily detected by an orthopaedic surgeon simply by looking at the position of the leg. However, even if it is obvious, many doctors would still do a thorough physical exam to determine other injuries involved.

To determine the exact location of the displaced bone, the doctor may order imaging tests such as x-rays.

How It Is Treated

A hip dislocation needs to be treated immediately. An unmanaged dislocated hip can lead to sciatic nerve damage, recurring dislocation, and inability to perform the closed reduction.


If there are no other injuries involved, the doctor may perform the closed reduction. It’s the manual manipulation of the bone fragments without surgical exposure of the fragments. This is usually performed under conscious sedation.

After the reduction, the doctor usually requests additional tests such as x-rays and computed tomography (CT) scan to make sure that the bones are in proper position.

Surgical Intervention

If the closed reduction is unsuccessful or if the joint remains unstable, then surgical intervention is recommended.

Open reduction is commonly performed for a dislocated hip. In this procedure, the bone fragments are exposed surgically for realignment.